AUSTIN, Texas — Editor's note: This interview has been translated from Spanish.
Rogelio De Luna can frequently be seen cruising by in his electric wheelchair in the area of North Lamar Boulevard in Austin, where he works as a candy vendor. But last week, when he was crossing a parking lot, a pickup truck ran over him.
“I just remember that I crossed the street and went into the parking lot and I don't remember anything else,” said De Luna. “I only remember that I told the paramedics not to take me to a hospital because I had no money.”
Video shows the person left De Luna lying in the parking lot. Luckily, a fire truck was close by. De Luna said the fact he is still here is a blessing, but he is not in good shape. He suffered a brain bleed, a fractured skull, a fractured pelvis and multiple other cuts and bruises.
“I'm not doing well at all,” said De Luna. “I feel pain in my hip, my knee, my head, my eyes. Everything was damaged when I was hit.”
This was the second time he was hit in just one month. He said it is a problem in the area and he asks drivers to be more respectful.
“There are also children who cross in that area, there are children that cross the streets, and the drivers don’t have respect, they have no respect,” said De Luna.
He also added that he feels police do not enforce traffic laws enough in the area.
Police arrested 17-year-old Pablo Antonio Avila-Banagas on multiple charges for the crime. But despite the teenager allegedly running him over and leaving him, De Luan said he is grateful because he feels like he has a new perspective on life, knowing what he survived.
“I actually thank that person who ran over me because ... it gave me the opportunity to not face death, but to be closer to God,” said De Luna.
De Luna does need help and said he is very grateful for the support the community has already shown. He said he got a new wheelchair, but it does not function properly. He is also not sure yet how his medical bills will be paid for.
Avila-Banaga’s truck had a sticker for the Clave Privada Car & Truck Club. It can be seen in the video when De Luna was run over. That club has now set up a GoFundMe for De Luna to help with expenses.
As of Friday, nearly $10,000 has already been donated, including a $4,000 donation from an anonymous donor.
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